Glad you’ve joined us to work on beating the course creation blues!

To recruit your first group of students, pitch your first version of the course as a limited-access pilot. In exchange for their feedback on the course and holding you accountable to completing the course, they’ll get free or discounted access to the course when it launches.

The best place to pool for pilot users is all the people that have already given you permission to talk to them. Whether that’s email, Twitter, or Facebook.

If you’re posting to Twitter, try something like: “Want a sneak peak of my upcoming course: How to Change the World in 10 Easy Steps, signup to join my free early bird program.” Provide a link to quick application form with more details about the program.

An email doesn’t have to be overly elaborate, either.

Subject:  Help me build my next online course

I’m working on creating an online course called “How to Change the World in 10 Easy Steps” and I could use some help.

I need 10 folks who are willing to hold my feet to the fire to make sure I complete the course AND who will review what I’m putting out to make sure it’s the best course possible. In exchange, I’ll give you free access to the course once it launches. I figure it’ll be about 1-2 hours a week of your time for the next 6 weeks.

If this sounds like something you can help me out with, apply here:

Keep the email personal. Use your voice. And definitely avoid marketing-speak. If you know a few folks that would be a good fit for the pilot program, you could even reach out to them personally — rather than send out an impersonal blast.

Another option: Rather than get all 10 people at the same time, you can invite people in 3 or 4 at a time. Not only does this create a greater sense of scarcity, but it also keeps the amount of feedback you have to juggle limited. I’d suggest adding a new round of folks as the previous round is nearing the half-way point of the course. The amount of the compensation (e.g. free access or discounted access on publication) can vary depending on when they’re invited into this early version of the course.

And If you don’t already have a reasonable audience to recruit pilot students from, consider joining or starting your own mastermind group of other like-minded folks looking to build online courses. More on this in a follow-up post.

The best folks from this pilot group can be invited back to the preview of the next course. Over time, you’ll build a trusted group of folks who not only hold you accountable, but will provide that first round of feedback that will push you to create an amazing course.

Next time, we’ll discuss Step 3: Update and iterate  your content .